I’ll admit it, I used to be an Apple fan boy. I loved the products, the ethos, the eco-system. I was an App Developer earning money from their brilliant system. Our relationship was good.
Like most fan-boys, the recent years have been a slow and steady decline for Apple. Some people say we are being overly dramatic; others think we are being nostalgic. Whatever your opinion, here is the Apple experience as it exists today.
I’ve decided to upgrade my old iPhone 5s for the new iPhone 7. I had been waiting for a while to see the reviews, and despite the no headphone jack (which in my opinion is just laziness and pseudo-innovation), the new iPhone is pretty good. Well built, slim, sleek, everything you want from an iPhone.
I love simplistic looking devices, so obviously I went for the matte black. Here I hit my first annoyance: the matte black colour option doesn’t come in a 64gb option. It comes in either 32GB or 128GB (and more). Nowadays we have all our data stored in the cloud; my photos are in Google (yes, you suck Apple Photos), my music is in Spotify (yes, you suck iTunes) and everything else is in Google Drive (yes, oh yes you such Apple Storage or whatever shitty name you have). This means I don’t really need a lot of space on my phone, but still 32GB minus the size for iOS, doesn’t leave much room. So I regretfully decided to cough up the extra $290 to go from the 32GB to the 128GB, just to be safe.
Now with the decision made it came time to purchase. Of course I could just buy it online and get it shipped to my house, but seeing as I am writing this in the holiday season, I wasn’t sure what Australia Post’s holiday policy is, so I opted to go in and pick one up from the Apple Store.
So I rock up to the Apple Store and head over to the iPhones. I check out the gloss black version just to make sure I don’t want it, and as you can imagine, it is covered in a thick glaze of fingerprints; no thanks. So I pick up the matte black; like the feel; ready to go.
I look around for an employee to check me out, but the nearest one standing by the accessories doesn’t make eye contact. So I walk over to him, “Hey, I want to grab a matte black iPhone, 128GB please”. His friendly reply was, “Sure thing, just go over and see Janice”.
Janice was standing with an old lady who was asking some questions about her iPad. I waited patiently for a few minutes wondering why the other guy couldn’t just serve me. Finally there is a break in there conversation and Janice notices me, “Hey how can I help you?” , “Hey, I want to grab a matte black iPhone, 128GB please.” Another friendly reply, “Yep not a problem, you’ll just have to wait ten minutes if that’s ok”. “Ten minutes! How come?” Janice keeps her cool, “There are a few people in front of you.” I wasn’t angry just really confused, “But I don’t need help, I just want to quickly grab an iPhone.” She didn’t seem to understand my confusion, “Yep, not a problem there are just a few people in front of you.”
Looking around the Apple Store I could see 4 employees not doing anything (not including the Genius bar booking guys). I was just confused and disappointed. I went over to the first guy and asked, “How come you can’t serve me?” To which he shamefully enlightened me, “They are pretty strict at zone us off now, I can only sell you accessories…. Do you want a case?”
“Ohhh…” Which really mean’t, “No I don’t fucking want a case”, I just thought I was picking up a pre-boxed item that you have a plethora of in the back. I can go into any store in the world and pick up an item of the shelf. Even if there were lines to check-out I would doubtfully wait 10 minutes! But not in the Apple Store; here you get to wait for the opportunity to be served by our pseudo-friendly staff. Lucky you. Is it working?
If right now you are thinking, “What an entitled snob!” I don’t blame you. If Apple didn’t have such an amazing history for customer service, I wouldn’t have been surprised. But this idea of zoning employees defeats the purpose of the Apple Store; a place where you walk in, and some young hipster comes up to serve you, regardless what you want to buy.
Anyway, so I wait my ten minutes and then finally get my opportunity to be served. “Hey, how’s your day?” “Pretty shitty…” “Oh… What can I get you?”
Long story short, I get home with my new iPhone 7. I am pleasantly surprised to see that they have improved the clear plastic wrapping; previously requiring a knife to open, now there is a little tab that you pull to peel away. I look through the accessories to make sure the lightning -> auxiliary dongle is in there (don’t get my started) and then start up my new Phone.
The first thing it asks for is my SIM card. Cool, no problems. I go fishing through the box for the famous Apple pin to eject the SIM tray and… can’t find it anywhere. “What the fuck, you have got to be kidding me.” This was the pinnacle of how Apple showed that it cares, a little piece of metal that meant you didn’t have to go searching all over the house for a needle. No, not any more. I guess the cost savings on that tiny piece of metal, were of more importance than customer delight.
So I go searching through my shit to find an old one from my previous iPhone. Got it. SIM installed. Setup started.
I sign in with my Apple ID and then it requires me to get a code from another Apple device. Great. So go find my laptop, open it up, wait for the code. No code. Resend the code. Put the code in. Great.
Then apparently they have encrypted some of my data (don’t know what) with my laptop’s password. Weird, but ok, I’ll enter the third level of authentication. Do you want my kidney’s too?
By this point the “joy” of getting a new $1K device has totally dissipated. I couldn’t give less of a shit about this thing. Why? Because Apple couldn’t give less of a shit about me. What made Apple great back in the day, was not that it made the best phones and laptops (although it did). It was that it was the Rebel, battling against the Status Quo. Apple was on your side, fighting against shitty customer experiences, and out of date technology companies.
But that’s the reality I guess. Apple is no longer the Rebel, it is the Status Quo; no longer the David, but the Goliath. As Albert Camus, Saul D. Alinsky and many others have noted; Revolutions breed counter-revolutions. Once the Rebel gains power, they slowly become the Status Quo, making way for the new revolution.
This is likely to be the last Apple product I ever purchase. Don’t get me started on the new Macbook Promium.
RIP you (now) shitty company.